Normally, schedules in the NHL pair teams together that are from the same division or even same conference late in the season. This provides exciting playoff type hockey to gear up for the offseason. For some reason, whomever was overseeing the Avalanche’s schedule overlooked this 3-game Eastern Conference road trip that the Avs will start tonight in Buffalo.
The Avalanche will play their final back-to-back series beginning tonight with the Sabres and concluding tomorrow with the New Jersey Devils. The Avs will then travel to NYC to tangle with the Red-Hot Rangers. After the meeting in MSG, the Avs will travel back to Colorado for a brief stint in Denver before going back on the road.
The bad news for the Avalanche is that out of the remaining eleven games, only four of them are in the friendly confines of Pepsi Center. That means in order to make it into the playoffs the Avs must become road warriors and win the majority of their remaining games in front of hostile fans.
The schedule on the road is not very favorable for the Avs with these next three games coming all on the east coast. Then the final week of March finds the Avs in San Jose, in Vancouver and in Calgary. Those three games, coupled with this week’s east coast swing, could be the downfall for the Avalanche. The Avs need at least 3 points from each of these series in order to stay close. If they can muster more, that would be a welcome breath of fresh air.
Focusing on tonight’s game, both the Avs and the Sabres are in the hunt for the eighth and final playoff spot in their respective conference. The East is nowhere close to as jumbled as the West is right now. The West finds five teams fighting for two playoff spots and all of who are within a single point of each other. Not taking anything away from Buffalo and their fight for a playoff spot, but the fight in the West is taking center stage down the stretch.
Tonight the only other game that has an effect on the Avalanche and their points is the Vancouver/Phoenix game. If the Canucks outskate the Coyotes and the Avs pull out a victory in Buffalo, Colorado will be in seventh while Phoenix occupies eighth and the Sharks, Kings and Flames all sit in ninth through eleventh. Basically the Avalanche need to win tonight, plain and simple. If they do that they would be in if the playoffs started tomorrow. That’s all the Avalanche need to keep doing in order to keep their post-season hunt alive.
|Actual Points Before Tonight’s Games||Predicted Points After Tonight’s Games|
|7th||PHX – 79||COL – 80|
|8th||SJS – 78||PHX – 79|
|9th||CGY – 78||SJS – 78|
|10th||LAK – 78||CGY – 78|
|11th||COL – 78||LAK – 78|
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